Happy New Year – Sirius-ly

I hope you had a great holiday and new year. I played it pretty casual.

Since the lease on my car was up I thought I’d use my time off at the end of the year to hunt down a new car.

I did get one. Mitsubishi’s performance sedan – the Galant Ralliart. It comes with 6 months of free Sirius Radio.

I already subscribe to XM and have been curious about the differences – now I can find out.

First – the call to activate the radio had me on hold for about 10 minutes.

The recording kept talking about “increased holiday call volume”.

At least they acknowledged the wait was long and offered a reason. They get points for that.

Getting the radio activated was a breeze – took 2 minutes.

Now – the radio itself is actually built into the 8 inch touch screen display in the vehicle dash.

It’s Incorporated into a digital menu along with regular AM/FM radio, the Navigation system, & all the controls/settings for the car.

When pushing the audio selector button you go AM-1 bank of 6 presets -FM -2 banks of 6 presets – Sirius – 4 banks of 6 presets and then on to the CD/MP3 section.

This set up makes Siruis an integrated part of the car – not an ADD on.

Having Sirius Radio integrated into my car in this way makes it as much a part of my car as the climate control and nav systems.

I didn’t activate the radio at the dealership – but the next day at home.

Having Sirius on the display, unactivated was kind of annoying.

And here’s the thing – it will ALWAYS be there.

Even if I let the subscription lapse after the trial – the 4 banks of Sirius presets remain and I’ll forever have to page thru them to navigate around the radio. It’s simply another band on my radio – like AM. It was like seeing the listings for all the pay channels you don’t subscribe to on the TiVo guide.

Now – onto content. I didn’t have a lot of time to listen yet – so these are very preliminary first impressions.

Also, I don’t listen to sat radio for the same stuff I can hear on terrestrial radio. So I don’t care about Top 40, Modern AC, Rock “hits” channels. If I want that stuff regular radio pumps it out like mad for free.

I subscribe to XM to hear music in my car that terrestrial radio doesn’t play – mostly jazz and jazz influenced musics, electronic music and talk programming like BBC. Also – commercial free.

First impression – Sirius’s Jazz channels suck compared to XM.

The “Planet Jazz” channel claims to feature artists like “Pat Metheny, Miles Davis, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Herbie Hancock, Soulive, Weather Report, John Scofield…” instead I heard Sting and Steely Dan. Get a clue guys – Geeze.

The “Chill Channel” is ok- too many vocals for my taste. The XM version is much hipper.

I also listened to a few other music channels but nothing about them jumped out as being remarkable. I still need to spend more time with it.

Of course, not having heard Howard in almost a year I had to tune in.

It was Howard like he’s always been – with a fairly regular peppering of 4 letter words. BUT – they are not used in a provocative way – rather – as conversational as many of the people I know use them. It’s not a big deal. Anyway – he’s still funny. I laughed.

In regards to sound quality. In my car, Sirius does sound better than regular FM radio. FM radio sounds fuzzy and distant. Sirius sounds clear and focused. The drop outs weren’t bad – its happens. It happened with my XM unit also.

Somehow I’m not getting the digital “artifact-ness” I used to get on my XM aftermarket unit in my other car – perhaps it’s the Rockford Fosgate sound system in the new car.

So, I’ll hang with Sirius for the 6 month trial – and see if it’s worth keeping – ie – paying for.

Who knows – by then it could be 1 single company.

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